MK Tamar Sandberg (Meretz), the Reform Movement, the Hiddush Association and the Free Israel Movement, on Monday deleted their petition to the Supreme Court to compel the state to operate public transportation on Shabbat, Ha’aretz reported. The plaintiffs cancelled their petition after judges Hanan Meltzer, Neal Hendel and David Mintz recommended that a transportation company wishing to operate lines on the Sabbath would be an appropriate party submit it again.
Judge Meltzer added that “one must distinguish between the right of the individual and the need to grant a license. If there is someone who wants to [run Shabbat public transportation], they should appeal to the court.” He added: “I read in the paper that there is a group trying to operate transportation on Shabbat –they should come and petition. If a local authority or private group wants it, they should petition. You can’t stand in their place.”
The judges noted that the state is not obligated to act to examine transportation needs, and emphasized that they do not intend to express their opinion on this issue.
According to the law, it is prohibited to operate public buses on days of rest. The Traffic Ordinance states: “In this matter, the Minister shall take into account Jewish tradition, as far as possible.” However, the law defines several exceptions and allows the Minister of Transport to grant a license to operate transportation on Shabbat on lines serving hospitals, border towns, non-Jewish communities, and places that are “vital, in the opinion of the Authority.”
Attorney Orly Erez Lachovsky, who represents the petitioners, said after the hearing that “the court left an open door for submitting an application to operate public transportation on Shabbat. We intend to act to submit an application for the operation of public transportation on Shabbat and if necessary return to the court.”
“We hope that the Transportation Ministry will consider the needs of patients, the elderly, the disabled, and single-parent families in deciding whether to respond to that request. We will continue to act to ensure the rights to freedom of movement, equality and respect for all the residents of Israel.”